Ergonomics done right.®
August 11th, 2011

Ergonomic Facts for Athletes

By Blake McGowan, CPE

Blake McGowanI noticed that many of you enjoyed the Fad vs. Fact webinar conducted by Miguel Gonzalez and Kent Hatcher.  It created quite a bit of discussion, as well as positive feedback.  I have always believed that ergonomics is about optimizing human performance (i.e., strength capabilities, precision, velocity, endurance, etc.), and as a practitioner, I strive to focus on the facts associated with improving performance, productivity, and quality.

As an avid sports fan, I have realized for years that athletes have a similar desire to optimize human performance.  Yet, at times, they ignore the facts that could  help them be the best they can be.  Below is a short list of facts athletes may want to consider to improve performance:

  • Using a weighted bat in the on-deck circle will decrease bat/swing velocity when at the plate (Southard, D. and Groomer, L., 2003)
  • Using a lighter bat in the on-deck circle will increase bat/swing velocity when at the plate (Montoya, B.S., et al., 2009)
  • Static stretching prior to an athletic event will decrease muscular power (Marek, S.M., et al., 2005), torque (Evetovich, T.K., et al., 2003), maximum force output (Bacurau, R.F., et al., 2009), vertical jump height (Young, W. and Elliott, S., 2001), sprint speed (Nelson, A.G., et al., 2005), agility (McMillian, D.J., et. Al., 2006), and maximal strength for up to 1 hour (Fowles, J.R., Sale, D.G., and MacDougall, J.D., 2000)
  • Static stretching prior to an athletic event will lower endurance performance and increase the energy cost of running during a 30-minute run (Wilson, J.M., 2010)

As a practitioner assisting industrial athletes, you may want to consider how these activities might impact the performance and productivity of your office, line-side, or field employees.  At a minimum, remember the words uttered by Joe Friday (Dragnet): “Just the facts, ma’am.”